Minister of Transport, Works and Housing, Hon. Dr. Omar Davies, says that the Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) will be reclaiming routes in the Kingston Metropolitan Transport Region (KMTR) that rightfully belong to the state-owned bus company.
He said that the JUTC has added more units to its fleet, which will enable it to provide quality service to these areas, which have seen an influx of taxi operators. The move is also expected to cut down on transport violations and ensure greater protection for commuters, while reducing losses to the bus company.
“We have turned a blind eye to some of the violations because we were not able to provide the service…as the JUTC increases its roll-out… it won’t be allowed, because the JUTC carries too great a subsidy, to make losses at the present levels…so we are going to provide an improved level of service,” Dr. Davies said.
He was speaking at a certification ceremony for participants in the Public Passenger Vehicle Driver and Conductor Training Programme on Wednesday, August 28, at the Jamaica Conference Centre, downtown Kingston, where some 541 persons received certificates for having successfully completed the course.
Approximately $2.14 billion has been allocated in this year’s budget to purchase buses to service routes across the KMTR, where the current fleet of 244 will be increased to 350 as of next month.
Managing Director of the JUTC, Colin Campbell, recently told JIS News that 35 new buses imported earlier this year, have been serviced and are ready to be incorporated into the fleet.
Meanwhile, Dr. Davies stated that the training is part of efforts by the Ministry to transform the public transportation system into a civilized, efficient, first-world operation.
He stressed that a reliable public transportation system is critical to the operation of any modern society.
“We must understand the importance of these training courses, because we have to ensure that the people who man the system bring to the stage, what we can consider first-world…an objective of this administration, is that we will provide the same quality service, if not better than what is provided elsewhere,” he asserted.
He said that while conduct cannot be legislated, measures can be put in place to ensure that those operators, who do not abide by the requirements, would be excluded from the public transport system.
“It cannot be that anybody, who can’t do anything else, feels that his/her place is in the public transportation system. We are going to raise the quality of service, raise the respect demonstrated,” the Transport Minister said.
In his remarks, Chairman of the Transport Authority, Norton Hinds said the training programme, which was first conceptualised and designed in 2004, in collaboration with HEART, covers the laws governing the transport sector, customer service, conflict resolution and defensive driving techniques.
“This training programme has exposed over 5,000 drivers and conductors to customer service skills…several rewarding partnerships have been forged with the government and private sector stakeholders, which have formed the foundation on which the programme stands,” he stated.
The course participants included 261 drivers and conductors from the KMTR; 61 from the North Eastern Transport Region; 120 from the Western Transport Region; and 99 from the Southern Transport Region.